Wow..... Surprise very rare Hamilton find!

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Spartcom5, Apr 19, 2017.

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  1. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    Was at the thrift today and saw these two pocketwatch movements sitting on top of this leather bag, clearly old as well. At first I thought nothing of it because it was two junky looking ladies movements. For $5 though I gave it a shot, at first a common Hampden Diadem. But then the Hamilton.... I looked it up and had never seen a ladies movement worth so much before. Sure, mine is pretty dirty but it's green gunk from inside the leather bag, I don't see any rust. The balance wheel moves but it doesn't run. Is it missing anything? does anyone think it is serviceable? I would LOVE to get this up and running in a wrist case. Truly a great find for $5 especially since I almost passed up on it.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    I see it's missing two screws...
     
  3. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    Good luck with getting the green gunk off of both movements.
    Keep us posted as to how it goes.

    Money aside, I like both movements equally.
    The Hampden's dial is much more to my taste.
     
  4. geo.ulrich

    geo.ulrich Registered User

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    Three screws:glasses:
     
  5. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    Okay I didn't see the one on the very side lol aren't screws cheap to find?
     
  6. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    Nice 17j 0s Hamilton. It does have a lot
    of green "shmutz" on it, hope it cleans up well.


    Rob
     
  7. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    Are the missing screws going to be a problem? Also, how hard is it to find a wrist case for this?
     
  8. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Spartcom5,

    The rim of the balance wheel on the Hamilton is caught behind the cut and a little distorted, but it should come back OK with any luck. That green stuff may have stopped anything getting rusty and should clean up pretty well.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  9. geo.ulrich

    geo.ulrich Registered User

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    Screws should be easy enough , cases easy also.
     
  10. John Cote

    John Cote Registered User
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    Nice find...I found my Lady Hammie in a junk box at a country flea market...it cost a bit more...but not that much.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. LloydB

    LloydB Registered User

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    #11 LloydB, Apr 21, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    Verdigris (the green grunge) is very
    time consuming and troublesome to
    remove. An online search will bring
    up methods -- some aren't friendly
    to ferrous parts.

    "how to remove verdigris"

    It's really a question of 'what's your
    time worth'? Counting the number
    of grains in 2 pounds of rice could
    be more fun.
     
  12. rrstd

    rrstd Registered User
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    Here's my Lady Hamilton :p

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    Well good news. Dropped it off today with my watchmaker and he's confident he can get it up and running. As for the green stuff, he's dealt with it before and has had great results. Fingers crossed! Now to find a case for it!! Any idea where to look?
     
  14. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    I'm very lucky... I just remembered I bought this pocket/wrist conversion awhile back at an estate sale for $15 in a period correct cushion case. Turns out it's none other than a 0s size wrist case!!! I have a case for this movement should it clean up and work and it's a correct case for the watch as well!! I'll have to swap the 7 jewel Elgin out but oh well, it's worth it. Here is my watch and here is a 983 wrist watch. Ad showing a 981 in a nickel cushion, exact one I have currently. I'm still going to look for a circular gold filled 0s case, if anyone can help that'd be great.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  15. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Super Moderator
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    I remember a Swiss colleague telling me when I showed him my lady hamilton "that movement is the PAtek Philippe of America"
     
  16. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User

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    Exactly what i was thinking Jeff.
     
  17. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    That may be an accurate impression, but like Waltham's Lady Waltham and Elgin's Lady Elgin, the Lady Hamilton was not the top watch in that size. The 985 is a better watch by most criteria and is 19 jewels rather than 17 jewels. Here are some pictures of one in its original hunting case rather than the wristwatch adaptation.

    View attachment 341373 View attachment 341374 View attachment 341375 View attachment 341376 View attachment 341377 View attachment 341378 View attachment 341379
     
  18. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    At the National in York PA a few years ago, Art Zimmerla had this incredibly interesting little watch. I was looking at it in wonder and asked if he could tell me its story. His only comment was that they were pretty scarce and I was the first one to even look at it. I bought it from his at his asking price that may have been a little above the scrap gold price at the time.

    It is a 988 6/0 size and has the remarkable characteristic that it is an open face watch with a seconds bit in that size. There are not many of those from any company. I always read (but not all that accurately) that Hamilton thought the watches they put in logo ring cases were very special.

    View attachment 341380 View attachment 341381 View attachment 341382 View attachment 341383 View attachment 341384 View attachment 341385
     
  19. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    The 985 is indeed better but much more expensive and rare. Just glad I could get my hands on a 983! Maybe someday I'll get a 985... Interesting thing to note is the fact that back in 1917 Hamilton priced each wrist watch the same. The 985 was priced exactly the same as a 983... makes you wonder why bother to buy the 983 back then hmm
     
  20. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    Tom the 988 is a very nice small watch. The whole package is nice
    (the movement, dial, and engraved gold case).
    I would like to see a photo of it in context to it's size.
    Maybe next to a US quarter. When we look at photos
    all watches look to be the same size.


    Rob
     
  21. John Cote

    John Cote Registered User
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    Tom,

    I love this little (6/0 size) watch. The serial number is very interesting. In fact it is very interesting to me that the first serial number in the grade was 2000001. Hamilton must have considered this an important watch?

     
  22. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Hamilton sold the 985 in three configurations. the HC seen here and the wristwatch like the 983 plus an open face with a conversion dial having no seconds bit.

    Possibly the market for a 985 open face pocket watch led them to produce the 988.
     
  23. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Sorry if this thread is being hijacked. We can split it up if you like.

    Here are some size comparison shots. I think Elgin is probably the winner among American companies for smallest high grade,

    View attachment 341440 View attachment 341441

    The little Waltham is a Bracelet model and about 10 ligne. It is a HC so does not really compare. The little Lady Elgin is only 15 jewels, but pretty remarkable as a 10 ligne open face watch. The quarter is a standard quarter.
     
  24. John Cote

    John Cote Registered User
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    I guess size matters....as open face watches with sub seconds, the Elgin is a bit smaller. That said for quality and looks give me the Hamilton with its raised gold jewel settings over the little Elgin with its chamfered regulator whip any day! :chuckling:
     
  25. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

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    #25 Larry Treiman, Apr 24, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017

    Actually, Jeff, I believe that your Swiss colleague was wrong.

    Most American collectors I have discussed these "Lady Hamiltons with over the years say these watches are pretty clearly patterned after Meylan.

    Finally, I recall seeing some documentation years ago, traceable to Hamilton, that mentioned that the design was based on Meylan. It was an "AHA!" moment for me.

    Maybe some of the Meylan mavens on the MB will comment.


    Larry Treiman
     
  26. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    I do agree the Hamilton is a nice movement!







    Rob
     
  27. John Pavlik

    John Pavlik Registered User
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    Box card description & box of the grade 988..
     
  28. John Cote

    John Cote Registered User
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    Holy Moley John...that's pretty cool!
     
  29. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Yes, really nice and another low number. I suppose there is some mention of these in the finishing department records. I wonder how many were made?
     
  30. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    One thing I do like about the Elgin design is the engraving of their name,
    or the word adjusted under the balance wheel. It's a nice look.





    Rob
     
  31. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

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    Halligan tables, published by Ehrhardt, indicate that there were 2,098 grade 988 movements produced between 1912 and 1918, and that they were sold as "Chatelaine" watches. He mentions that they were repla ced by "Model 986" [sic]. There were 56,895 Grade 986, also a 6/0 open-face, 17-jewel movements produced between 1915 and 1923, and used primarily for the popular (at the time) convertible watches that could be worn as ladies bracelet (wrist) watches or, with the bracelet detached, with a neck chain or on a pin at the breast. The grade 986 was later replaced by the 986A, with 91,300 produced between 1922 and 1927. So much for the Hamilton 6/0 open-face movements (YAWN....it is after 2 AM....g'night all....knot responxibel f4or trypogapickl errroirs!


    Lar5ry

    (teh 5 is sorta sillent)

    "SUPLICAMOS SILENCIO EN BENEFICIO DE LOS QUE DESCANSAN"

    (sign in Mexican RR Pullman sleeping carzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
     
  32. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    :) an entertaining thread. Thank you all. I agree that these are all lovely examples of watches made to please the fairer sex.

    I'm sure to want to add one to my collection should one ever come past my eye.
     
  33. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    I suspect that these high grade pendant size watches were also intended as trial runs for high grade wristwatches which they suspected might be the next "thing" on the market. This may be why they were set up inhunting form.
     
  34. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    That is why the 988 seems so remarkable to me and the reason I picked it up off Art's table originally. It is an open face watch with a second bit opposite the winding arbor.
     
  35. melr

    melr New Member

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    The Hamilton Grade Catalog states the 988 has serial numbers that range from 2000001 to 2002800, and a total production of 2,098 pieces. I'm trying to figure out how the movement shown here fits into the accepted serial number range and total production count. The movement looks like a 988, but it is outside the serial number range and shows up as a 986 in common database lookups. Is there something odd about this movement that makes it not a true 988? If it is a true 988, does this mean there are a few more rogue serial numbers that add to the count? View attachment 342939
     
  36. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Except in the case of forgeries, the watch tells the story.

    I think it is clearly a 988 even if the grade number were not engraved on it. The finish does not seem as high grade as the example I showed earlier. In particular, the plates have a very plain finish and the polished dished winding wheels are not present. I think the balance is also a lower grade. I cannot tell without the watch in hand, but the jewel settings may be composition instead of gold also.

    I would guess that an order was received with no stock on hand and another run was made.
     
  37. melr

    melr New Member

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    I've taken another photo. I didn't use flash with the first photo as I was more concerned with the serial number (since, based on the database, it is an anomaly and it shouldn't exist). Here's another photo with a little more attention paid to the movement itself. Perhaps this is a better representation. View attachment 343032

    If another run was made, how many do you think would have been made in that run? And how does this affect the total count for this grade?
     
  38. Spartcom5

    Spartcom5 Registered User

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    The minute arbor on my movement is snapped and won't be running for awhile!
     
  39. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Super Moderator
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    Hi Larry,

    Could very well be true! But I think he was not implying that the plate design was copied, just that it was a really fine beautifully finished high grade attention-to-detail watch. I think he was speaking in general terms as to the beauty of these small ladies Hamiltons.

    Jeffrey P. Hess
     
  40. Bryan Eyring

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  41. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

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    #41 Larry Treiman, May 10, 2017
    Last edited: May 10, 2017

    A little understanding of the relationship and differences between the 6/0 size grades 988 and 986 might help in making some sense of the serial numbers and other confusion between the two grades that we are experiencing.

    The two grades are both 6/0, 17-jewel, open-face (meaning the stem is at 12 o'clock and the seconds, if used, is at 6 o'clock)movements, and both share many of the same parts.

    The key difference between the 988, which came first in 1913 (depending upon what reference is used) and the 986 of 1915 is that the 988 has the negative pendant-setting mechanism to fit cases that have the stem with a spring sleeve as part of the case. The 986 has what some call the Swiss-style "detent-stem" arrangement, or "positive setting" with the stem held in the movement by a detent screw and considered part of the movement. The grade 986 has the rather small detent screw near the edge of the barrel bridge, between the edge and the crown-wheel, right next to the top barrel bridge screw.

    The 988 has the shop-lever screw in the barrel bridge, neat the edge where the balance rim passes under the center wheel and the center wheel rim ducks under the barrel bridge. That screw, typically found on Hamiltons and many other negative pendant-setting watches is to lock the the winding/setting mechanism in the winding mode while the movement is out of its case being worked on. Without the case stem to hold the mechanism in the winding position, it would go by default into the setting position, which would place a drag on the movement and affect the timing. By turning the shop lever screw, the watchmaker can lock the mechanism in the wind position. And by forgetting to turn the screw back to the normal position when recasing the watch, the watchmaker can be sure to get a come-back from an angry customer who got the watch home and found that it wouldn't set. Yes,that does happen, but one would think the watchmaker would have tested everything before returning the watch to the customer!

    The remaining differences seem to be mainly appearance items such as the shape of the train bridge on the 988, with those little cut-away indents between the escape wheel jewel and 4th-wheel jewel and the third-wheel jewel, and the 986 with the plate cut away to create three separate, curved "finger-bridges" or cocks. The early versions of the 988 had that so-called "fish-scale" finish on the plates, but the later versions apparently had a "faux-fluting" pattern as seen on melr's 988, s.n. 2,003,049. The grade 986 had a similar, if perhaps slightly narrower, straight-line "faux-fluting" pattern.

    Also, the grade 988 is marked "ADJUSTED" at the foot of the balance cock, probably meaning adjusted to temperature, while Hamilton did not claim the 986 to be adjusted. However, both the 988 and 986 use the same balance, complete. Also, the 988 appears to have gold upper jewel settings, while the 986 apparently does not; the parts book shows different upper jewel part numbers for the 988 and 986, but the lower jewels, hidden beneath the dial, have the same part numbers.

    Oh, yeah, gee-whiz,I've been having so much "fun" that I almost forgot the question about the discrepancy with the 988 turning up as a 986 according to the serial number, and the different appearance.

    In my photo collection (sorry, but I have no photo-posting capability) I found a photo of another 988 (s.n. 2,002,106) just like the 988 posted by melr (s.n. 2,003,049). The s.n. 2,002,106 is from the run of 986 s.n. 2,001,701 - 2,002,400, which is the first listed run of grade 986 (1917) and comes between the two runs listed as 988. And one source,supposedly traceable to the factory, shows the serial number 2,000,000 twice....once at the end of the previous run and once at the beginning of the first run of 988s; Another source shows the first run of 988s as starting with 2,000,001, which makes more sense and follows the normal numbering pattern.

    Melr's 988, (2,003,049) fits into a run of grade 986 mov'ts, s.n. 2,002,801 - 2,003,100, which follows the second and last run designated as grade 988, (s.n. 2,002,401 - 2,002,800). Add those 400 mov'ts to the 1700 in the first run (s.n. 2,000,001 - 2,001,700) gives a total production listed as 988 of 2,100.
    And considering that some have already turned up from runs of grade 986 mov'ts, only a fool (or a watch colllecctor) would make a guess at how many of those listed as grqde 986 are actually 986. If "finishing department" records for the period that these little ####s were made are available in the NAWCC archives, maybe they would give some clues. I dropped out of the NAWCC after 40-years as a member so I don't have access, for which I am extremely grateful!!! I'll leave it to some other watch nut to follow through.* Personally, I don't give a rodent's tush! <];>P

    Larry Treiman

    *CAUTION!!! Trying to make sense of some of this #### can drive you nuts....if you aren't already! <];>)
     
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